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UCLA women fall 67-51 to Stanford in Pac-12 tournament semifinals

Stanford's Lexie Hull puts up a shot around UCLA's Lauryn Miller in their Pac-12 tournament semifinal game March 7, 2020, in Las Vegas.
Stanford’s Lexie Hull, who had 28 points, puts up a shot around UCLA’s Lauryn Miller on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Shots, from point-blank or long range, rattled off the rim. The rebounds — the hustle plays UCLA so dearly covets — fell into Stanford hands. Bruins coach Cori Close could only shake her head.

In a 67-51 loss to seventh-ranked Stanford on Saturday night in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament, the No. 8 Bruins didn’t resemble the team that knocked off the Cardinal in Maples Pavilion one month ago in Palo Alto.

That winning team controlled the boards and made timely shots. Saturday’s group was out-rebounded by five and held to a season low in scoring.

“Stanford was the tougher team,” Close said. “They out-executed us, they played with more unified purpose than us, and when you’re playing this level of a game, we have to control some of those things. As the head coach, it starts with me.”

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While the second-seeded Bruins await their NCAA tournament fate, the defending conference tournament champion Cardinal (27-5) advanced to play top-seeded Oregon in Sunday’s final at 5 p.m. after the No. 3-ranked Ducks knocked off No. 13 Arizona 88-70 in the earlier semifinal Saturday.

The Bruins (26-5) played in their fifth straight Pac-12 tournament semifinal, but they haven’t advanced to the final since 2016. They are 1-10 against the Cardinal in the Pac-12/Pac-10 tournament. The one victory was in 2006, the last time UCLA won the conference tournament title and the last year in which the Bruins beat the Cardinal twice.

Sophomore Lexie Hull dominated with 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting with nine rebounds for No. 3 seed Stanford after she was held to six points in UCLA’s 79-69 regular-season win.

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While Tara VanDerveer complimented UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere, who scored 14 points with six rebounds and five steals Saturday after she torched the Cardinal for 29 points on Feb. 7, the Stanford coach recognized her team had the most dominant player on the court Saturday.

“We had Lexie,” VanDerveer said. “She was the engine of this train today.”

UCLA rolled 11 players onto the court looking for a spark, but only five scored. Onyenwere, Charisma Osborne and Japreece Dean had 14 points each. Osborne had 13 points in the second half as the Bruins tried to rally, but even a four-point play that capped an 11-0 fourth-quarter run barely dented Stanford’s 26-point lead.

After scoring 15 points in the first quarter and taking a two-point lead, UCLA scored just 16 points in the second and third quarters combined. UCLA made just three field goals in the second quarter but trailed by just four at halftime because of 14 Stanford turnovers that gifted the Bruins eight points.

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The Cardinal weren’t as generous in the second half.

With just one turnover in the third quarter, Stanford steamrolled UCLA for 25 points in the period, matching the team’s first-half total. The Bruins couldn’t keep pace, shooting just seven-for-30 in the second and third quarters.

“We didn’t come out with a sense of urgency, just competitiveness or fight or focus that we had in the first half,” Onyenwere said.

UCLA had just 12 defensive rebounds as Stanford frustrated the Bruins by hustling for offensive boards. From the first possession of the game, on which Hull grabbed an offensive rebound off a teammate’s missed three-pointer, Close was imploring her team to box out. But after watching her team give up 15 offensive rebounds, the ninth-year coach could only shoot her bench a steely look by the end of the game.

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Oregon beats Arizona

No. 3 Oregon 88, No. 13 Arizona 70: Sabrina Ionescu had 31 points and nine rebounds to lead the top-seeded Ducks (30-2) past the fourth-seeded Wildcats (24-7) in the other semifinal. Oregon advances to the Pac-12 title game for the third consecutive season and is looking for its second championship in that span. The Ducks shot 53.2% (33 for 62) from the field, including 15 for 31 (48.4%) from three-point range. Erin Boley added 18 points for Oregon, and Ruthy Hebard had 14. Aari McDonald led Arizona with 34 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this roundup.


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